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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/50

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

provinces or for the whole country. Furthermore, the several boards were to elect a general council for the discussion of questions concerning the societies, and this council was to submit to the government proposals for withdrawal of its recognition of any society which had acted in questionable or unsatisfactory manner, even if it had not openly violated the provisions of the act.

The last provisions especially contributed to further the development of the Friendly Societies. In their delegates and the council they now had a mouthpiece, and a system of common rules and regulations was established which proved to be of great value. The choice of Mr. Th. Sörensen as Inspector—a practising physician who had been a member of the Commission and who won the confidence of the Friendly Societies to a truly remarkable degree—contributed greatly to the thriving of their funds. He supervised the interests of the societies in a genuinely democratic spirit, and it was largely due to his influence that the delegates appointed were most valuable to the cause.

The rapid growth of the movement under this act shows to what extent the principles involved harmonized with the Danish way of thinking. At the close of 1893 there were 457 recognized societies, comprising 116,000 members. At the close of 1915, when the act of 1892 ceased to be in force, the number of societies had increased to 1,546 and the number of members to 892,000. Thus the time seemed near when half of the adult population of the country would be members of some Friendly Society. The female members slightly outnumbered the males; and it must be noted that, according to the act, a married woman had to be an independent member in order to participate in the advantages offered.

If the question is asked whether the voluntary system of Friendly Societies has reached down to those classes for which it was intended, it must be admitted that we have no guaranty of it such as we would have in a compulsory system. But an examination of the social position of the